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Czech Fantasy

This is a genre of fantasy from Czechia. Like many of the other genres on this wiki, I defined it myself.

Definition

Czech Fantasy is a modern genre of fantasy that originated within Czechoslovakia sometime in the 1960s. However, it may have originated much earlier, in the 1920s or 1930s, as a continuation of Czech folktales. The genre is moderately popular within Czechia and Slovakia and is mostly limited to film and TV.
The worldbuilding of Czech Fantasy stories typically takes inspiration from classic germanic/slavic fairy tales. Stories also take inspiration from Christian and Slavic mythology, but I’ve found this is to a much lesser degree, and limited to just a few elements.
Stories are typically set in the high middle ages in a central European country. The countries generally seem to be inspired by the states of the Holy Roman Empire. While the countries depicted are often called ‘kingdoms’, the audience rarely sees anything outside of the capital, or the countryside of the country. In fact, the capital is almost always treated as the kingdom, which implies a city state. The term ‘kingdom’ seems to be used just because people would likely find the use of any other term in a medieval setting strange. Or rather, it feels ‘correct’ to the writers and the audience.
Fantasy elements are approached strangely when compared to other genres of fantasy, with their use being quite similar to how fantasy elements are approached in older folktales. Magic has a light presence within Czech Fantasy, usually being limited to a few magical items, or a few magical individuals. Magical items are actually quite common, and sometimes the entire story is built around certain items.
Fantasy races are completely absent…except for what are called ‘Devils’.
Devils are the only non-human race that frequently appear within Czech Fantasy stories, to the point that they’re essentially a staple of the genre. The physical appearance of Devils is identical to that of humans, except that they have a tail and horns. They’re covered in soot from top to bottom, and wear dark, and sometimes, ragged clothing. However, this appearance is likely due to budget limitations that Czech Fantasy stories often have. In animated films and TV, Devils are depicted with red skin and goat legs, but those are less common than the live action content.
In temperament, Devils are often mischievous and like to play pranks on humans. They’re typically benevolent, but occasionally depicted as malevolent, but rarely as the main antagonists of a story. When depicted as benevolent or neutral, they’re shown as having a strong sense of justice, due to their role as punishers of sinners in Hell.
With Devils being present, it’s only natural that Hell would be present as well. Strangely, however, Hell doesn’t appear nearly as often as the Devils. When Hell does appear, it’s basically just the stereotypical image: dark caverns with flames dotting the environment. Hell does contain big pots, intended to cook sinners. Whether sinners are depicted is highly variable and sometimes they’re not seen at all.
Interestingly, Heaven’s presence is even smaller than Hell’s, often limited to a mention, or not at all. To my knowledge, there is only one Czech Fantasy filmA) that actually depicts Heaven. Angels are also exceptionally rare, but appear slightly more often than Heaven is mentioned.
Dragons, and other such classic fantasy creatures, are occasionally mentioned but basically never appear outside of a few storiesB). This is probably due to budget restrictions.
The actual plotlines of Czech Fantasy stories vary quite a bit, but most are modelled after fairy tales. While most Czech Fantasy stories can be described as family-friendly, many stories are much darker than would be expected. This, however, isn’t too surprising, considering the fact Czech Fantasy takes a lot of inspiration from fairytales.

Trivia and Notes

  • It would be interesting to see someone from the West or Japan attempt to write a Czech Fantasy story. I will not be that someone…at least not yet.
  • Czech Fantasy actually has an Urban Fantasy sub-genre, which is one of the strangest flavors of Urban Fantasy that I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. I believe it’s existed since the 60s - meaning it’s likely as old as Czech Fantasy itself - and it’s even got a TV franchise under its belt. Describing it is quite difficult, however, which is why I’m limiting it to a piece of trivia.

A) And its sequel.
B) ‘Few’ meaning two that I’m aware of. At least if we’re talking live action, but Dragons are rare even in the animated content.
lb/czech_fantasy.txt · Last modified: 2023-07-07 22:06:07 by ninjasr

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